College – Issue 36

OBITUARY A pioneering scientist

continue his work on his PhD at University College London. He sold his prized Royal Enfield motorbike, bought a ticket and sailed for London – his home for the rest of his life. He joined the academic staff at UCL in 1962, rose to become Dean of Science, and then for 20 years was the Sir William Ramsay Professor of Chemistry. Clark published much-cited papers on how to distinguish chemicals by their spectroscopic fingerprints, and, in 1975, a breakthrough paper on the Raman signature of ultramarine. His research was key to Raman spectroscopy becoming a practical tool in the armoury of art historians and chemists. In 2002 it enabled him to examine the “Vinland map” and expose it as a clever forgery. The Vinland map purported to show a section of North American coastline supposedly made 50 years before Columbus reached the New World. Professor Clark discovered that while radiocarbon dating showed the parchment was half a millennium old, a yellow pigment used to draw the borders was made with a form of titanium oxide first used in ink in 1926. It was after his retirement at the age of 67 that his work on Raman spectroscopy really began to change the art world, and he was able to help verify that one painting, A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, contained pigments – ultramarine, green earth, lead-tin yellow – that were habitually used by Vermeer, the

purported creator of the work. The discovery helped the work to sell at auction in 2004 for $30 million. He also showed that several works in the Victoria & Albert Museum, believed to be the work of the 15th century Spanish master Jorge Inglés contained modern pigments and were therefore 19th or 20th century forgeries. Professor Clark was awarded countless international honours, and was made FRS in 1990, which he considered a highlight of his career. The 10 volumes of his published papers presented on his behalf last year by lifelong friend and contemporary at College, Colin Averill, are now part of the Harris Collection of Old Boy publications held in the College library. Anthony Masters Brough 1929-2018 We fondly remember Tony Brough, Headmaster of College for 14 years and two terms from 1971-1985. Tony led College through significant expansion in both finances and facilities including the library extension, department, renovations and strengthening to four boarding and four dayboy Houses, a new Art department and a new Headmaster’s House. new gym (1977) Science block (19780 and English A long reign

Professor Robin Jon Hawes Clark FRS, 16 February 1935– 6 December 2018

Just a few months after Old Boy Emeritus Professor Robin Clark (5742) gifted Christ’s College with 10 bound volumes of his published papers, the eminent international scientist died in London following a fall. The renowned inorganic chemist who pioneered a dating technique that authenticated a Vermeer painting and exposed an ancient map as a forgery, was 83. Born in Rangiora, he loved the outdoors, and was educated at Marlborough Boys’ College where he shone, winning a scholarship to Christ’s College. In 1953 another scholarship enabled him to study sciences at Canterbury University College and, in 1958, yet another saw him offered a place to

College Issue 36 2019


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